My friend Shannon shared these perfectly descriptive words just hours after we witnessed her mom, Lori, get knighted by the Royal Rosarian Queen of Rosaria. Specifically, Lori is now “Dame Lori of Rosaria, Dame of the Rose Gift of Grace.”
I’m working on my curtsy for the next time I see Lori. Oops, ‘cuse me… DAME Lori.
It’s all quite important, you know, this knighting stuff, even if you have no idea what I’m talking about. Quite honestly, I didn’t really know what was going on either, when Rob and I joined Lori’s family in a hotel ballroom on the east side of Portland last week for The 2017 Royal Rosarians Honorary Knighting Ceremony (cue trumpets). But it sounded terribly momentous and exceedingly bloggable so there was no way I was going to miss it.
The little bits that I DID know about this super duper foofa were disconnected nuggets of iconic Portlandness.
I knew there was this group of people called the Royal Rosarians. They wear cream-colored suits, straw hats like you might find at Shakey’s Pizza, white gloves like you might find at a tea party, red ties, and some of them top their cream suits with velvet capes of various colors (I’ve since learned the capes – and their color – designate various levels of status. Rosarians are all about status). These people and their distinctive outfits look very important and very fancy…if not a tad bit 1912. The Royal Rosarians are most prominent during Portland’s annual Big Time Event called the Rose Festival.
|The yellow cape means this Royal Rosarian|
is a former Prime Minister and is now
considered a Duke of the Realm.
Keep reading. It gets even better.
The Rose Festival started over 100 years ago to honor and celebrate Portland’s self-proclamation as The Rose City (and to hopefully boost tourism). The Festival is a two-weeks long shindig of parades and visiting fleets and dragon boat races and a big carnival and fireworks along the waterfront. It’s held the first few weeks of June, which assures in true Portland style that at least one…if not all three…of the parades are celebrated in the rain.
The final parade is The Grand Floral Parade. Similar to the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, there are lots of floats featuring roses adhering to the rule that all material appearing on the float must be organic. So lots of flowers and grasses and seeds and such. And glue. Lots and lots of glue.
Because I’m friends with Lori and Shannon, I have had the honor of walking in the Grand Floral Parade a number of times in our 13 Junes here. It’s over 4 miles of people smiling, giggling, pointing, and shouting “LLAMAS!!” as we walk by. It’s a hoot and a half and I llove it.
So because I’ve been in the Grand Floral Parade a few times, I’ve come to understand that one of the key responsibilities of these cream-suited Royal Rosarians is to walk along with parade route with each entry, sort of like fancypants body guards (my knighting ceremony program uses the more elegant “escort” descriptor). I’ve heard whispers that getting to be the Rosarian that walks with the llamas is one of the more coveted assignments of the parade. Awww, shucks.
And that’s about all I knew. The Rosarians wear these old-timey cream suits, they guard the llamas as we walk in the Grand Floral Parade to make sure nobody breaks any “no touchy” rules, and they are sort of a big deal because, well, they are ROYAL.
We were all suitably impressed several months ago when we found out that Lori had been nominated to get knighted into the Royal Rosarian culture. Oh my gosh!
Lori has rightfully received a number of community service awards for her hard and dedicated work bringing llama llove to Portland area hospitals, senior centers, schools, and the occasional wedding (remember a couple months back when that story about llamas attending weddings went viral?? Yeah, those are Lori and Shannon’s animals.)
|These pix were all. over. the. internet.|
The weddings gig help fund the animal therapy non-profit.
The goal is to never have to charge even for gas when the
animals go out on therapy visits.
Shameless plug: Make your tax-deductible donation HERE!
So Lori being recognized for her loving contribution to our community was no surprise, but, well, THE ROYAL ROSARIANS wanted to honor her?!? Yowza! Big Deal here in Portlandia, believe you me.
That brings us to last Friday morning. Several hundred of us were in our prescribed “Business Attire” sitting in banquet chairs waiting for something Really Important to happen. There were some television cameras, photographers, and reporters adding to the anticipation.
And then with great flourish and music, the Duke of the Realm welcomed us. A couple dozen Royal Rosarians entered the room and passed under a rose arch.
|The annual hope is that this ceremony is held outside in|
Portland's famed International Rose Test Garden.
But often it is in a rain-free hotel ballroom instead because Portland.
Then came the Candidates for Honorary Knighthood, and then the Rose Festival Court (15 young women vying to be the next Queen) and then the Queen of Rosaria escorted by the Prime Minister. The national anthems of both Canada (still not clear why?) and the United States were sung by a Lord High Chancellor and a Sir Knight.
Also listed in my program were people called the Royal Regent, the Lord High Sheriff (ummm…I know cannabis is now legal in Oregon but…), the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the treasurer – thanks, Google!), the Minister of Foreign Affairs (there was quite a contingent of guests from Portland’s sister city in Taiwan), the Lord High Chamberlain (no thanks to Google, I’m still confused), the Royal Scribe (secretary), and the Royal Gardener (well, they ARE all about roses after all).
Sensing a theme?
As the ceremony got underway, there was much pomp and even more circumstance. Hats were tipped in unison, heads were nodded in recognition at just the right time, titles were spoken with great reverence. The pace was slow and deliberate. There was not the slightest sense of urgency about, well, anything because pageantry takes time, people.
|Somebody of some Rosarian status was walking by.|
There was much talk about this place called the “Realm of Rosia” and all these middle-aged, mostly retired people in cream suits were quite proud to be among its fine citizens. They all deferred with great respect to The Queen of Rosaria – who either just finished her last year of high school or her first year of college. They eagerly eyed the 15 young women of the 2017 Royal Court who each hoped she would be named Queen the next morning just minutes before the start of the Grand Floral Parade. 15 young women who may or may not be old enough to vote in an election in our fair land.
Somewhere along the way, as the history and purpose of the Royal Rosarians was summarized (they started in 1912 as the official greeters and ambassadors of goodwill for the City of Portland), a very critical and clarifying word was oh-so-casually dropped: mythical.
You mean to say this whole thing is…make-believe?!?
Yep, it’s cosplay for the senior set. LARP without the foam swords. And yet, because of Lori, I was totally buying into it.
But wait. There's more.
The knighting finally got underway. There were 42 Candidates for Honorary Knighthood. Each candidate selected a rose variety and was knighted as the ambassador of that rose. According to my handy program, each Honorary Knight (boys) and Dame (girls) pledged to:
“…observe the traditions of honor upheld by the Royal Rosarians – to aid in the cultivation and growth of the Roses assigned to them, to stand firm in the defense of righteousness and the flag of their country.”
Heavy responsibilities, those.
Lori’s knighting took about 30 seconds, not including the very kind introduction. As it should be with all knightings, Lori knelt before the Queen under the watchful eyes of the Prime Minister and the Royal Regent. The Queen said some fancy words and proclamations, used her scepter (of course there was a scepter!) to dub Lori’s shoulders and head, and then commanded Lori to “Arise” as a Dame.
|Lori said this was actually a pretty cool albeit mythical experience|
Lori was then handed a framed scripty scroll, a gold rose-themed medal was placed around her neck, and her Damehood was official and complete. Whoo hoo! Only 29 more knightings to go!
|Lori and Shannon and the official|
Certificate of Knighthood
As the candidates took their turns on the stage, it became clear that one of the big perks of being the Grand Poobah Prime Minister of the Realm of Rosaria is that you get to nominate your friends and favorite folks to be knighted. Several candidates were actually introduced as “the Prime Minister’s friend” and one was “the Prime Minister’s favorite music and choir teacher.”
There was a radio show host, the locomotive engineer from the Oregon Zoo, and a cowboy poet. The president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses was knighted, as was the mayor of a city in South Korea. Several people from the US Navy and the US Coast Guard can now also add Knight or Dame to their titles, as can heads and first ladies of various regional flora festivals (strawberry, autumn leaf, lilac, daffodil, and apple blossom).
But most anticipated by many in attendance was the very last knighthood candidate.
He is so famous and so VIP that he stayed out of the room until it was his turn to be knighted, so as not to, you know, distract.
Finally, with all the appropriate fanfare and fight song accompaniment, the last Candidate for Honorary Knighthood burst into the ballroom, paws pumping and tail flapping.
Yes, the Prime Minister of the Mythical Realm of Rosaria is also a very proud Oregon State University Alumni. Thus the OSU mascot, Benny the Beaver is now and forever shall be known as Sir Benny the Beaver.
Only in Portland.
|Can you tell by the smile which Rosarian is the Prime Minister?|
|Hard to know if the contingent from Taiwan was excited|
or offended that their Deputy Speaker shares his
knighthood with an unusually large beaver
wearing a football uniform.